Sense & Sensitivity

Reader Wants to Know How to Comfort Friend

DEAR HARRIETTE: My acquaintance "Mark" recently committed suicide. I wasn’t that close with him, but we were both on sports teams -- I’m a lacrosse player, and he was on the baseball team. He was dating one of my teammates, but they broke up three months ago after being together for two years. He was one of those guys who was always smiling and had so many friends. He was the life of the party and a pretty good baseball player.

He wasn’t the best boyfriend to my teammate because he wasn’t loyal, but he did make her happy. I’m pretty upset about the whole situation because he was always kind to me, and I can’t imagine how she must be feeling. How can I be there for her without being overbearing? -- Lending a Hand, Bridgeport, Connecticut

DEAR LENDING A HAND: I am so sorry for your loss. Whenever a young person chooses to end his or her life, it is a tragedy that’s almost impossible to bear. I trust that you will take advantage of whatever mental health support your school offers, because this will be hard for everyone.

Reach out to your teammate. Tell her how sorry you are about Mark's passing. Ask how she’s doing and if you can be of help to her in any way. Sometimes people need to talk. Other times they need to be quiet. Check in with her regularly at first to see if she needs or wants anything. Don’t push, just let her know you are there for her.

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